ReCLaS: Language, change and society in focus

Research Collegium for Language in Changing Society (ReCLaS) seeks research-based solutions to language-related problems in changing society.

– There are many practical questions that applied language studies can provide answers to. Examples include issues of societal participation, inequalities in education and challenges for learning posed by multilingual contexts, lists professor Sari Pietikäinen.

Applied language studies thus highlights the central mediating role of language in how society functions. Language plays a key role in debates on education, communication, argumentation, and political decision making. The research collegium seeks to explore the multiple connections between language, change and society ReCLaS is one of the profiling initiatives of the University of Jyväskylä; it received four-year funding from the Academy of Finland in 2016.  

It is a joint venture by two units and Tarja Nikula-Jäntti, Head of the Centre for Applied Language Studies and Anne Pitkänen-Huhta, Head of the Department of Language and Communication studies, have a firm trust in the future of the research collegium. Jyväskylä has, even internationally speaking, a strong and versatile research community in applied language studies and there is sound evidence of high quality in research on language learning and teaching, language education policies, and discourse studies. Profiling activities aim at new research openings and theoretical and methodological innovation, especially at the intersections of these areas.

The funding for the profiling measure, a total of 1.6 M€, makes it possible to recruit two associate professors and one post doctoral researcher, as well as research visits to Jyväskylä by internationally renowned scholars. In addition, ReCLaS has set up a group of six international key researchers in the field to act as an advisory board.

–The ReCLaS community expects the collegium to support risk-taking in research. They also look forward to having shared premises to support research collaboration across research areas, professor Tarja Nikula-Jäntti sums up.